web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Netzavim-Vayeilech: ‘Perfectly Candid’

Staum-083013

The Gemara continues and explains that even the smallest favor or minuscule gift is considered a bribe that brings with it devastating effects.

With this in mind, how it is possible for a person to repent or “see the light?” Every individual is responsible to judge himself, i.e. he must reckon and determine whether his outlook on life and his actions are on par with his obligations. But it is undeniable that a human being is “bribed” by his own desires, negative character traits, and evil inclinations which propel him towards sin. If the subtlest bribe destroys the rationale of even the greatest judge, what hope is there for us in judging ourselves, when we are drowning in a morass of self-deception?

Rav Yosef Elyashiv[2] answers that logically there should indeed be little hope for our spiritual growth. However, the Torah promises us that if we seek the truth G-d will ensure that we not be overwhelmed in the natural manner by our own negative whims and thoughts. This is what the verse means when it states, “It is not hidden from you and it is not distant”, for truthfully it should be too distant to achieve. However, “The matter is very near to you – in your mouth and in your heart – to perform it.” Despite our penchants and proclivities, G-d has invested within us a supernatural ability to transcend and overcome our self-deceit.

Our evil inclination not withstanding, we have the ability to become close with G-d and ascertain the truth. However, we can only achieve that if we are willing to struggle to discover it. The first step is to realize our innate deceptions and then pray to G-d to help us overcome them.

At some point during the school year I read the article at the start of this column to my the tenth grade literature class. My students are always very impressed by the article and enjoy its subtle ironic message. I challenge them to explain what makes the article so brilliant? What wily technique does the author use to drive home his message?

We discuss that if the article had begun with the author stating how terrible television was, the message would be lost.  Because we are so bribed by our inclinations and desires, a person who watches television does not want to hear how terrible it is. He goes through life making up excuses as to why “it’s not really so bad.”

But the author immediately launches into the story, capturing the attention and piquing the interest of the reader. By the time the reader has neared the end of the article he has arrived at his own conclusions about the terrible stranger. He cannot help but wonder why the family sanctioned such an awful influence in their home? If the stranger made the parents nervous why did they not ever demand that the stranger leave?

Then in the final line – nay in the final two letters – of the article the entire story makes sense. And at that moment the potent message of the story is undeniable. It is only in retrospect that the reader realizes who the stranger is and by then it is too late to deny the strong negative thoughts and feelings he had for “the stranger.” The author allows the reader to unwittingly draw his own conclusions about the evils of TV.[3]

It is hard for us to be objective when we judge ourselves. But the Torah assures us that it can be done if one is truly candid with himself and is prepared to battle the falsities within him. If one is up to that challenge he can be confident that, with G-d’s help, he can be successful.

Just prior to his demise Moshe tells his beloved student and successor Yehoshua, “Hashem – it is He Who goes before you; He will be with you; He will not release you nor will He forsake you; do not be afraid and do not be dismayed[4].”

Truthfully Moshe related that message to every single Jew for all time. One need only begin the search earnestly and diligently. But once one has rolled up his sleeves and sets a trajectory in motion, he will realize that he is not alone in his quest and efforts.

About the Author: Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the Rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as Guidance Counselor and fifth grade Rebbe in ASHAR, and Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor. He can be reached at stamtorah@gmail.com. Visit him on the web at www.stamtorah.info.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Netzavim-Vayeilech: ‘Perfectly Candid’”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 at Lausanne are likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.
Iran Likely to Force Obama to Back Down on ‘Deadline Threat’
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Dani Staum
Staum-013015

People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

A person who truly feels that everything is a blessing from G-d will count his blessings and realize just how much he has.

Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.

Often in life we become stuck – stuck in the morass of our habits and the rote of our comfort level.

The innkeeper smiled and replied, “Why do you think we are dancing? We are dancing because G-d destroyed the Bais HaMikdash!”

After listening to the driver’s incredible story, Rabbi Levenstein asked him, “What about you? After seeing such a miracle why didn’t you became Torah observant?”

Twelve of the greatest leaders of the nation, one from each shevet, were dispatched to survey the land. The results of that mission were catastrophic.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/netzavim-vayeilech-perfectly-candid/2013/08/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: